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Inspired by the surrounding natural environment, Clive and Melanie wanted a home that would fit in seamlessly. Drawn to the contemporary barn look with high ceilings, space and light with the use of a natural product. They were was looking for clean lines, simplicity and a feeling of space whilst incorporating an oak frame. In essence, the timber frame they wanted, replicated the kind of open framework usually associated with a steel portal frame. The solution? An oak portal frame.
The couple were looking to replace an existing uninhabitable and derelict property at their 23-acre fishery, Tingrith Lakes. The existing property was poorly positioned and suffered from noise pollution, overshadowing and lack of private garden space – being overlooked by the fishery access and car park.
"I love the fact that from the entrance you have no idea of what lies behind the door. When you open it up, the oak frame frames the view of the lake. A lot of people who come to the front door are surprised, from the outside you would not expect the space that you see upon entering the house."Melanie, Owner
A timber portal frame was designed to allow for unobstructed views from the entrance to the lake. Trying to use oak instead of steel presented some technical challenges. With Carpenter Oak’s background and experience of pushing the boundaries we seized the opportunity and began scratching our heads to come up with a workable solution.
The solution that was acceptable with the engineers came in the form of really large flitch plates, slotted into the cross frame junctions, to act as bracing. A hidden steel universal beam in the roof helped deal with thrust at the top plates. Alongside plywood sheathing, in the wall and roof, the frame is able to function without traditional braces and ties. The resulting structure provides an uncluttered open space.
Clean open spaces present some difficulties at the point of raising the frame. The frame is reliant on an additional structure that is not in place when the frame is raised. Temporary bracing is required for safety and to ensure the frame remains correctly positioned, plumb and level.
With forethought and careful working out of centres of mass, the decision was taken to send some elements of the frame to site partially assembled. Lifting positions were clearly marked to aid the team on site with the installation.
Architect Leila Westrope (Roderick James Architects) worked on a sensitive design that could be built into the existing bank close to the Lake. This allowed the views to be utilised whilst overcoming the problems of the existing site.
On approaching the house it seems to be a simple low lying structure with a green roof. Upon entering the house you appreciate the unique setting by the lake and the large open plan spaces. All views are directed out to the lake. The split roof design enables a band of high-level windows to provide light and ventilation to the dug in service spaces.
Melanie revealed her favourite aspect of the house is the entrance. “I love the fact that from the entrance you have no idea of what lies behind the door. When you open it up, the oak frame frames the view of the lake. A lot of people who come to the front door are surprised, from the outside you would not expect the space that you see upon entering the house.”
Melanie went over her £300,000 budget when upgrading the windows to triple glazing but felt the extra expense was worth it as it made a huge reduction in noise pollution from the close in proximity, M1.
A year on and Melanie would happily take on the challenge again. “I have learnt a lot from the experience and would do so many things differently a second time around!”